BILLY THE KID AND THE GREEN BAIZE VAMPIRE **** UK 1987 Dir: Alan Clarke. 90 mins
Phil Daniels (Billy Kidd) and the green baize vampire is a sharp shooting backstreet snooker player who challenges Max, the green baize vampire, to a championship match! The loser will never play professionally again!
British snooker was at its peak in the 1980’s, but Britain wasn’t ready for the abstract haunting cinematic images and delicately intertwined cockney musical numbers that this film delivers to the viewer.
Billy The Kid And The Green Baize Vampire is directed by the late Alan Clarke, a very famous British film director who made cult classics such as the controversial Scum, The Firm, Made In Britain and the cult comedy Rita, Sue And Bob Too.
Alan Clarke was an amazing director who always managed to capture Britain at its dirtiest, bringing the grime and real lower class Britain to the big screen. The only other director who came close to Clarke is Mike Leigh, director of Abigail’s Party. Clarke’s films were slices of life in Britain, covering the changing times and real issues that Britain was facing. Billy The Kid And The Green Baize Vampire is something unique, and so far away from Alan Clarke’s comfort zone, but it just worked so well. What we get here is something very different indeed.
Billy The Kid And The Green Baize Vampire was made a year after Absolute Beginners (directed by Julian Temple). Although both of these films were classed as flops within the industry, these were both amazing films adored by fans!…who knows, was Thatcher’s Britain ready for another campy, fun, musical romp in the vein of The Rocky Horror Picture Show?
The film stars Phil Daniels, who sang on Blurs Park life, and is the main star of the cult mod hit, Quadrophenia. Daniels is an amazing actor, definitely a one off who seems to immerse himself in these roles, though you do see him popping up in series films like Zulu Dawn as well. There are a lot of familiar faces from British TV here as well.
The score is amazing, the acting is some of the most passionate performances I have seen from British actors.
The film is something very haunting and different. I don’t know what it is, but much like the experimental films from this era it freaked me out watching this as a kid. It’s more German expression than horror, but this film does deliver something very unique. It’s an fully immersive experience, not just a watch!
I loved this film, it’s definitely worth a viewing. Although critics at the time hated it, fans of this film have made this a cult gem that new viewers are now discovering for the first time!
Review by Tony Newton